Barr's Irn-Bru - Supporting Scottish Football

Congrats To Inverness Caley Thistle For Creating History

Inverness_Caledonian_Thistle

Sometimes it is easy to forget that Inverness Caledonian Thistle are actually still quite a young club, relatively speaking.

Yet today this twenty year old club took on the mighty Celtic at Hampden and won the five goal epic to reach their very first Scottish Cup final.

Now let’s get the controversy out of the road. Celtic did deserve to win a penalty in the first half, when the Glasgow side were one nil up. Somehow the referee and that useless official behind the goal-line missed a clear handball from Caley Thistle’s Josh Meekings. That incident should have also seen the Caley Thistle man sent off too.

Now Celtic fans have jumped to conspiracy theories; The ref has a season ticket at Ibrox, Hugh Dallas’ son Andrew was carrying on his dads vendetta against the Hoops or it was just a typical SFA corrupt decision. 

In fairness to Celtic boss Ronny Deila, he didn’t slaughter the refereeing team. Instead he made a few well phrased assertions on their performances. 

I don’t believe any of the tosh that it was down to cheating, for me it was just yet another extremely poor decision that has blighted the Scottish game for the past few seasons. If only the SFA had the balls and cash to use instant TV-replay evidence.

But let’s not forget the fact that the Inverness side played superbly well and deserve their moment in the sun. Plus it wasn’t their fault that the officials got things so wrong in that earlier incident.

All of Caley’s goals were well worked, even the move that lead to the penalty. Obviously the Craig Gordon sending off just compounded it all for the Celtic fans. In truth, Caley grew throughout the occasion and their slick passing game often caused problems for the opposition.

Many of Caley’s recruits have come from south of the boarder in the English lower leagues, but three players who played today started their careers with the club; Nick Ross, Graeme Shinnie and Ryan Christie. It was great to see Shinnie and Christie being instrumental in helping their team to this famous win.

As ever, when a set of fans are left disappointed and angry, you’ll get another group that are excited and euphoric. The Thistle fans traveled around 170 miles to get to Hampden, the away supporters will regularly travel vast distances just to support their team. So they too deserve to enjoy this golden moment in their history.

It was also a nice touch from the manager John Hughes, who dedicated the amazing victory to injured goalkeeper Dean Brill, who will also miss the final. Brill has been in inspired form this season and was a big reason for Caley Thistle getting to this stage.

Hughes said this of his missing keeper…

“That’s for Dean Brill – a guy who’s been absolutely outstanding for us.”

John ‘Yogi’ Hughes deserves special praise too. He took on a difficult task in replacing Terry Butcher, who had done an excellent job in the Highlands. Many thought that Hughes would falter and that the club would go into a decline. But Yogi has done a sterling job and kept the momentum going, they are now in their first Scottish Cup final and lie in third spot in the Scottish Premiership.

This has been a fairytale season so far for Caley Thistle and they might just get their ‘happy ever after’ if they can defeat Championship side Falkirk on the thirtieth of May!

Congrats again to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, they really are the pride of the Highlands.

Why Everton Should Take A Closer Look At Klose


-Miroslav_Klose

Some people just seem to openly defy age. German legend Miroslav Klose seems to be one of those.

Last summer in Brazil was viewed as his swan song, he captured the World Cup with Germany and also cemented his place in the history books by breaking the all-time scoring record with his sixteenth World Cup goal.

But the thirty-six year old striker hasn’t given up just yet. This season for Lazio he’s notched up thirteen goals in thirty-three appearances (twenty starts). That’s helped I Biancocelesti into second spot in Serie A (Klose has ten league goals) and also into the Coppa Italia final.

In actual fact, the veteran hitman is his clubs top-scorer this season.

Klose is smart and has kept himself fit in his later years. He constantly finds himself in the right positions at the right times, that doesn’t just come with age. You need the brains to keep regularly scoring when you are in your mid-thirties.

An absolute genius with headers in the box, seven out of his sixteen World Cup goals came with his head (all 16 were inside the box). He’s a big, strong striker and he uses those attributes to bully defenders and make some room for himself in the penalty area. Klose is also superb at following up chances and will get goals from deflections off of defenders or goalkeeper’s spilling shots.

People in the know in football appreciate his talents…

Jurgen Klinsmann stated Miroslav was ‘an exceptional talent‘ and also said ‘he can step up and make a difference‘.

Current German boss Joachim Loew, who guided to his country to the World Cup last summer also loves the big forward…

“Klose’s secrets are his professionalism and his head. His great strength is his determination to keep up this standard and not relax.”

Former Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes said of Klose “He is a great player and a great guy”.

As you may have seen in those quotes, Klose is well respected for his endeavour and sense of fairness as well as his footballing ability.

When breaking the records of Gerd Muller and Ronaldo, Klose took time out to praise both of the goalscoring heroes. That sign of humility isn’t often seen in modern day football.

In Germany he refused to take a penalty after he felt it was awarded to his team unfairly. Then for Lazio in 2012, he told the referee that he handled the ball into the net and that goal was then overturned. Those two incidents show that the forward is a true gent and one of a kind.

These sort of traits and the fact that he can still keep scoring at this stage of his career must make him an attractive option for a side like Everton.

The English Premier League club are currently a bit short of frontline personnel.

Klose would take the heat off Romelu Lukaku if he were to arrive at Goodison in the summer.

The veteran striker would also offer invaluable experience to the younger strikers at Goodison. Lukaku, for instance, could learn so much from Klose in terms of heading and positioning inside the box too. Plus lets not forget that the international has 137 caps and 71 goals!

It would be a great way for the German to get a year in the EPL and have the likes of Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman on either wing firing ammunition into the box for the tall striker to get on the end of.

I know it didn’t really work to plan for Roberto Martinez with veteran Samuel Eto’o at the club but I think Klose could actually offer more and do so without the huge ego.

Maybe the opportunity might have come around too late in the day for Klose. He has been slightly frustrated at Lazio this term due to his lack of minutes on the pitch and maybe the Toffees can’t offer him anymore next season. Maybe a chance in the States or in Brazil might give the German more playing time.

I just think that Everton should at least sound out the World Cup’s most prolific goalscorer and see if they can come to an arrangement and see if they can get a season out of Miroslav Klose.

Van Gaal/Mourinho: The Good Blood Rivalry

LVG/Jose

On Sunday evening, Chelsea and Manchester United will resume their rivalry at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are charging towards the league title but United are the form team determined at securing a return to the Champions League. Neither team will want to drop any points at this crucial stage of the season.

But there is added intrigue for this fixture, as the teacher and the pupil once again face off in the dugouts.

Eighteen years ago this year, Dutchman Louis van Gaal walked into the Camp Nou. In Catalonia he discovered that his predecessor, Sir Bobby Robson, had left his translator behind… One Jose Mourinho, who certainly wasn’t the Special One at that point.

In fairness it’s very harsh to call Jose just a translator. The reason for his appointment at Sporting Lisbon (then Porto & Barca) under Bobby Robson was also due to the fact he was a coach as well as his good grasp of English. That would mean that he could learn from his mentor in one on one situations and become close to the other coaches and the players.

No mere translator would be allowed to take training drills, but Mourinho was afforded that luxury because Bobby spotted something in him.

When the legendary England boss departed Barca is 97, but Mourinho stayed put. Van Gaal came in and was immediately impressed by this young Portuguese coach he had inherited. Like Robson, he saw something special in Jose and allowed him to take more training sessions and look after the younger players in the B team. He even allowed him to take charge of certain cup games.

On the main part the two enjoyed three pretty successful seasons together at the Camp Nou, where they won two La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey. Lets not forget that a certain Josep Guardiola was also at Barca during that era, he was Van Gaal’s captain no less.

At Barcelona, Jose learned a lot from Louis van Gaal and they both share a number of similarities. The two have a keen eye for detail and planning and both have a unique self-confidence that sometimes comes across as ultimate arrogance.

When Van Gaal left Spain in 2000, Jose returned home to Portugal to start his own career as a number one and would soon become the ‘Special One’.

Famously their paths would cross again a decade later and again it would be in Spain.

The date: The Twenty-Second of May 2010. The Venue: The Bernabeu in Madrid. The Prize: The Champions League.

Now the master and his apprentice would battle it out for the biggest prize in European football. Both managers had won the famous cup on one previous occasion each (With teams from their home countries). Yet even though the stakes were so high, both men showed each other huge amounts of respect.

At the final whistle the younger man, Mourinho, and his pragmatic Inter Milan side would end up the victors. But one of the first things to happen as the referee drew the game to a close was for the managers to share a warm embrace with each other and Bayern Munich gaffer Van Gaal was first to say ‘Congratulations‘.

It showed a real touch of class from both men.

In football we are so used to the bad blooded rivalries and we never seem to appreciate those bosses that respect each other.

People seem to thrive off the hatred that Roy Keane shows Sir Alex Ferguson or vice-versa. The media lap-up the tension that Jose Mourinho seems to have with his own prodigy, Andre Villas-Boas. The niggle felt between Louis van Gaal and another former Barca assistant, Ronald Koeman, always garners more attention than it deserves.

What those examples show, is that the friendship and affection that Jose and Louis feel for each other is obviously very real.

When Chelsea travelled up north to face Man Utd back in October of last year and played out a draw at Old Trafford. Both managers once again embraced and this seemed to have certain sections of the media (cough cough Daily Mail) foaming at the mouth with incandescent rage!

How could two well respected and successful foreign managers come to England and hug each other after a draw! This is the Premier League! 

Were the shouts and cries we heard from some of our press.

I love the affection these two men share for each other and to be honest it’s quite refreshing in this day and age.

Mourinho learned a lot from his days working under Van Gaal at Barcelona. In his pre-match presser the Chelsea boss said of his former mentor…

“I consider him a big, big, big friend.”

While before their last meeting in October, Van Gaal gave Jose a huge compliment…

“He is one of the top in the world, I think he might even be better than me”

But don’t let all the talk of being best buddies and having a strong friendship fool you. Both of these men are driven by results and success.

On Sunday neither manager will let sentiment stand between them and winning three points. Yes they will no doubt hug again after the final whistle rings out at the Bridge but if we have a loser then they will still moan and feel the defeat like any other. While the victor will still have that self-assured smile and celebrate the triumph like any other too!

It’s a different kind of rivalry. A friendly rivalry? Sure. But a rivalry none the less.

Charlie Austin Could Make Newcastle United Tick!

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Newcastle United seem ready to step up their chase of QPR’s Charlie Austin, with the view of bringing him in this summer.

I honestly think a transfer to the ‘Toon’ could be the best thing for Austin. But only if QPR succumb to relegation at that end of this current season.

Should that happen, then you’d imagine that Austin after impressing in his debut season in the English Premier League (EPL) would want to remain in the top flight.

If QPR do find themselves in the Championship next term, they will be welcomed back with a heft fine due to financial mismanagement from their season in the Football League back in 2013/14. That bill could be as much as £58m.

Charlie would be the London clubs most valuable commodity and be the one that garners the most interest in the summer. You then have to factor in that the strikers contract runs out in 2016 and he won’t discuss a new one until the QPR’s league future is decided.

Basically Austin won’t sign a new deal if ‘The R’s’ fall back into the Championship.

So that will kind of force the hand of QPR owner Tony Fernandes. But the fee could be closer to £10m rather than the £15m wanted by Tony and his board.

Clubs will obviously be interested in the hitman. He has impressed with his seventeen strikes in thirty starts in the EPL. That statistic is even more impressive when you realise that he’s done that in a mediocre side.

Austin has almost scored half of QPR’s goals during this league campaign.

The fact that he’s an instinctive finisher and has a great work ethic will be major plus for any potential new employers.

So why do I believe Newcastle could be the ideal move for the twenty-five year old?

Well at St James’s he’ll be allowed to continue his Premier League journey without the pressures that come at say a ‘Top Four’ club.

To be perfectly honest a move to a Man United, Chelsea or Man City could actually be two steps back. You might earn more and get the odd appearance in the Champions League but the competition is fierce. Having only one year’s top flight experience will count against him if one of those teams don’t do well and he will get dropped and used as a scapegoat.

StJamesPark

 

At Newcastle Utd he’ll go in as the number one striker.

This term as shown us that between them Sammy Ameobi, Ayoze Perez, Yoan Gouffran and Emmanuel Riviere are still not consistent enough performers.

Papiss Cisse is still scoring but you’d like him to get more. He seems to struggle for confidence and from a few niggling injuries. All in all it could be the right time to move on the Senegalese internationalist.

If Charlie Austin can arrive in Tyneside firing goals then the Geordie’s will see him as a hero. As supporters they love a true number nine who is prolific.

By going to Newcastle and being given regular starts up there plus goals, that should be enough to force Charlie Austin into Roy Hodgson’s England reckoning for Euro 2016. A major goal for any English footballer.

But there is one sticky issue in all this… Mike Ashley.

The Newcastle supremo needs to actually man up and make the purchase. Once or twice before Newcastle have been linked with similar signings and they have fallen through because Ashley seemed to like the PR without parting with the cash.

Also the ‘Toon Army‘ won’t be placated by the Austin signing. So if Ashley thinks that this signing will see the heat taken off him then he’ll need to think again. The relationship between the clubs fans and owner cannot be mended, in my opinion. Although the fans will still support the striker, they’ll never support Mike Ashley.

But the fact is this, Newcastle United could offer Charlie Austin the best future as he still needs to prove himself as a consistent scorer in the Premier League.

If he can do that at St James Park then the world could be is oyster! Sometimes the smaller steps can giving you bigger opportunities in the future.

SPFL: Slaves To TV And Lack Integrity

SPFL Logo

Do you remember when Rangers went into liquidation and were sent down to the bottom tier of Scottish football? Well do you also remember the buzzword for that summer?

That was SPORTING INTEGRITY.

The clubs stood together as one and insisted that Rangers start a fresh in the old Third Division as the rest of Scottish football had to ignore certain commercial pressures and instead listen to their fans!

Well now in 2015 the SPFL seem to have forgotten the meaning of sporting integrity and certainly didn’t take into account the fans when they decided to rearrange just one of the final Championship fixtures in early May.

To move just the Hearts versus Rangers match seems ridiculous, especially considering how close it is between the Gers and Hibs for that vital second spot in The Championship.

Now the SPFL have said that they offered every other team the chance to change their fixture to the Sunday too. But alas this is a decision that the SPFL should have made themselves and not one that should be given to their member clubs. Listen all teams fighting for similar places in a league should play at the same time, it makes no sense to have it any other way.

Also why has it taken so long for these details to be ironed out?

Obviously the league has been dictated to by the TV networks, mainly due to the fact that they panicked and sold their soul to them after the Rangers crisis. Companies like SKY and BT Sport will constantly treat our game like its second rate compared to the English Premier League but SPFL supremo Neil Doncaster needs to develop a backbone and insist that games for TV are scheduled much earlier. Lets face it the EPL wouldn’t have allowed this to happen. Doncaster’s job is to protect the product, by continually allowing the TV companies to dictate things it just weakens future contract negotiations.

To give the fans, who have been going to games all season, just two and a half weeks notice and to then do it in such a sloppy fashion, that could see more changes, just shows disrespect to your shareholders!

Hearts owner Ann Budge obviously agrees…

“Being given 17 days’ notice of this change is extremely disruptive and potentially very expensive for the fans, the sponsors and indeed the club. Overseas supporters have been in touch to advise that they will lose substantial amounts on travel; others have advised of lost earnings, holiday problems, etc.”

The SPFL have yet to convince me that they have a long-term view or strategy. No wonder they still struggle to find a main sponsor. Everything seems to be slapdash and done on a whim.

For me, well they need new direction and that has to start at the top.

Neil Doncaster is an unconvincing leader and the quicker the Scottish clubs figure that out the better. If only the fans could hold a general election to find a new Chief Executive for the SPFL, then we’d see a huge turnout and probably a change for the better!

Jurgen Klopp To Leave Dortmund: Could He End Up At Madrid, Manchester, Milan Or Munich?

Jürgen_Klopp

The breaking news from the Bundesliga is that Jurgen Klopp has asked to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of season

To be honest, he would have probably been better served to have left at the end of the last campaign when things were still on a high at the Westfalenstadion. 

But even though ‘Die Borussen’ have had a disappointing season this year, mainly in the lower half of the table, Klopp’s CV will still be up there with most managers at this current time. 

After some years in the wilderness, Klopp brought success back to the club winning the Bundesliga title in 2011 and 2012. He also managed to get the side back into the big time in European competition, they were beaten finalists in 2013 (losing to rivals Bayern Munich).

The forty-seven year old has reportedly said he’d like to take a short break from the game before he looks for his next job. But as we all know in football anything could happen, a short break could be anything between two weeks or a year. 

So where could Jurgen Klopp end up next? 

Real_Madrid_CF.

Real Madrid

Well speculation has mounted for some time that Carlo Ancelotti won’t be around after this current season ends. Even though they are still chasing La Liga and the Champions League again, things have come undone for the Italian this term in Spain’s capital.

It’s an extremely high pressured job and that usually sees managers lasting just one or two seasons before heading for the exit door. That could make the German manager wary, as he’s a man who seems to enjoy a long-term project.

Obviously money talks and Florentino Perez has a fine history in convincing the very best that their futures lie at the Bernabeu.

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Manchester City

Another top team that seem set to give their current manager the boot. Manuel Pellegrini did well at the Etihad in his debut season but things haven’t gone swimmingly during this campaign.

Klopp could be interested in this one as Man City’s owners look set to approve a big squad overall and that will give Jurgen superb scope to work with at the very beginning and he can make his mark from the outset.

The German manager has made his admiration for the Premier League quite clear in the past, plus he speaks the language. I’d imagine he’d like to make more out of the academy there too.

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AC Milan

After yet another disappointing season with a former legend rookie manager at the helm, you’d imagine that Milan can’t afford to make any mistakes with their next appointment.

Jurgen could view the Milan job like the one he had at Dortmund, as a sleeping giant that just needs the right kind of prodding. But is Serie A still able to tempt the best coaches?

Would be a huge statement from AC Milan if they could get Klopp on board but I think he’ll need to be convinced!

Bayern_München

 

Bayern Munich

If Klopp decides to take a year’s sabbatical then could a move to Dortmund’s rivals Bayern Munich be on the cards for talented coach?

Pep Guardiola has often said that he will see his contract out in Bavaria but that deal only runs until the summer of next year. Manchester City have been heavily linked with the Spaniard and might believe that they’ll get their man in 2016. If that were to happen could Klopp really join Bayern?

Well the manager already knows some of the squad at the Allianz Arena with Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski  trading Dortmund for Munich in recent years. The chance at more success in the Bundesliga may also be tempting for the boss.

But would he deliver that slap to the face, to his former employers and supporters? I doubt it, I think a move abroad would be more appealing.

 

All in all it should be a fascinating summer with all the managerial changes that are afoot. Whomever is lucky enough to secure Jurgen Klopp’s signature could well be laughing all the way to the bank! 

Feyenoord Target John Guidetti Would No Longer Be Missed At Celtic

John_Guidetti

Had Feyenoord offered John Guidetti a contract in January, many at Celtic would have been running about like headless chickens worrying about the Swede’s potential departure.

Now though, as the Eredivisie side make their move, it seems that interest in keeping Guidetti at Celtic Park has now cooled.

I don’t doubt Celts manager Ronny Deila would like to sign the player but I also think that the ball is now more in the club’s court than it was back at the turn of the year.

Guidetti’s form has dropped significantly since the start of December. In his last twenty appearances for the Hoops, John has just hit the net on three occasions. That is markedly different from the form he showed in his opening twelve fixtures for the club, when he struck an impressive eleven goals.

As his form has dried up, his appearances have started to become more limited. Leigh Griffiths has taken his chance to shine during Guidetti’s lull and has racked up eight goals since the turn of the year.

When everything was going well for the Swedish striker at Parkhead, certain things were overlooked like his cockiness and the fact that he or his agent were touting moves elsewhere for the summer.

Now though, the fans worry about his attitude and commitment to the clubs cause. The continued rumours of moves to the likes of Feyenoord and Marseille, now just add to their irritation. No longer are the fans or club worried about what happens in the summer.

Peter Lawwell will no doubt be keeping an eye on the situation and will be the one who decides if the deal is right for the club. But I serious doubt that they’ll go over the top and throw money at the twenty-two year old. Especially as he’s becoming better known for his quotes rather than his goals.

Guidetti showed against Inter Milan, that he offers Celtic something different. But he hasn’t been quite as prolific in the league  as he threatened to be during the early months of the season.

The disappearance of Guidetti’s form and his failure to commit earlier may leave Celtic in a better place in negotiations or to step-up interest elsewhere. If only they could find someone interested in Stefan Šćepović and Derk Boerrigter too. Lets all try and forget that the Hoops also still own Amido Balde and Teemu Pukki!

John Guidetti is classed as a hero in Rotterdam, he could have secured that same status in Glasgow but unfortunately it seems like he’s let that chance slip through his hands as he took his eye off the ball.

Why Juventus Should Jump On Stevan Jovetic This Summer

Stevan_Jovetic

It seems like everyone and their auntie could be leaving Manchester City this summer. After falling from grace this season, the current Premier League champions need a squad overhaul during the next transfer window, if they stand any chance of regaining the crown that they are about to lose.

One of the players that could be more desperate to jump ship than most would be Stevan Jovetic.

The Montenegrin international hasn’t really had much of a chance to delivery at the Etihad. He’s suffered from various niggling injuries and has struggled to get in ahead of other forwards like Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Alavaro Negredo and now Wilfred Bony during his stint in England. That has knocked the twenty-five year old confidence.

After Bony signed for City back in January, manager Manuel Pellegrini decided to bomb Jovetic out of City’s Champions League squad and gave his place to the Ivorian hitman instead.

That decision obviously hit Stevan hard and he said this about the situation…

“I deserve to play in the Champions League. I know that. The manager has killed me with this decision. I feel I deserve my place and other people have told me the same.

“People have told me I am a great player, but it is clear that the manager doesn’t think the same way. I am very disappointed, even now. I don’t think it was a good decision – or the right decision.”

Now as far as I’m concerned, and I’d imagine Jovetic feels the same way, that snub from Pellegrini was the last straw and that it proves that the Chilean isn’t convinced of Stevan Jovetic’s ability.

The six foot striker does have pedigree and should have been given more licence to express himself in a ‘Sky Blue’ shirt but unfortunately he’s very much on the periphery at Man City.

When he’s been able to stay fit and get on the field, Jovetic has contributed with five goals in nine Premier League starts and eight appearances from the bench, plus he’s also created three assists.

Now there is a way of thinking that the Montenegrin may hold out over the summer and see if the Manchester club sacks Manuel Pellegrini.

But I don’t really think that’s an option. The owners at City will be serious about this years squad rebuild and that will mean that they are willing to let go of squad players like Stevan. For them, he’s not reached the required levels and gets injured too much.

I also think the forward would benefit from a change of scene and refocus his career elsewhere.

So where should he go? 

Well both Liverpool and Inter Milan have been mentioned as possible destinations. I think he’d be more suited to either of those two sides than he is at City, to be fair.

But for me, I’d like to see Italian champions Juventus make a move for him.

Stevan is used to the Serie A style, having already played there for five seasons. As a secondary striker, he’s more of a floater and makes things happen and that’s how he excelled in Florence for Fiorentina.

Now the Viola and La Vecchia Signora are bitter rivals but players have made the switch between the two.

‘Jo-Jo’ was a hero to those who adore Fiorentina, his performances lit up the Stadio Artemio Franchi and he scored forty goals whilst wearing the famous purple jersey. Those fans that were so loyal to him at Fiorentina would hate to see him move to Turin.

But one Roberto Baggio made the move to Juventus in 1990, after he too found fame in Florence. Both players share similar  traits; they like to score and create, they love the ball at their feet and they love to run at players and dribble around and past the opposition.

Those same traits are extremely appealing to the fans of the ‘Old Lady’. They too might be rejigging their squad, especially in the top line.

Fernando Llorente could be shown the door in July with a return to Spain or a move to Tottenham on the offing. I doubt Alessandro Matri will stay on beyond this current loan spell.

Rumours linking Carlos Tevez with a return to Boca Juniors never seem to go away and even if he stays on next season, he’ll no doubt leave in 2016. Jove tic could be the ideal replacement for Tevez.

So reinforcements will be needed to help out Alvaro Morata up-front.

With Stevan Jovetic, Juve would be getting a striker hungry to show he has what it takes to succeed at a top club in the Champions League. Never underestimate the power of using previous adversity to get the very best out of a player. Juventus showed belief in Carlos Tevez after he too had a rocky spell at Man City and look at how he’s rewarded them.

Jovetic also knows the Italian league like the back of his hand. He’s comfortable in that environment, in fact he’s proven in the past that he thrives in Serie A.

Now the Italian giants have also been linked with moves for Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Edison Cavani.

Questions marks surround Falcao and Van Persie regarding their fitness and form. The two older forwards have been had disappointing years and they seem to lack commitment at Man Utd. Both would also command bigger wages than Jovetic.

Cavani would be the player that’s in form compared to the rest of the targets but he’d come with a huge transfer fee and a wage packet to go along with it. Others like Manchester United would be interested and Juve would maybe not fancy themselves in a bidding war.

I think the Juventus regime should be a bit cuter with their transfer targets. Plucking potential like Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba for bargain prices has served them well in the past.

If they can persuade Manchester City to sell Stevan Jovetic for around £13m-£15m then I think they’ll be laughing. It could prove to be yet another superb signing for the Serie A champs as they could once again transform an old Viola hero into a worldwide superstar!

Can Di Maria Save Man United Career?

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For Manchester United you don’t get games any bigger than against Liverpool or Manchester City. So you can understand why the English Premier Leagues’s most expensive purchase Angel Di Maria may have been extremely disappointed to be benched for both of these huge fixtures.

So far, the Argentine hasn’t had the best of times in Manchester.

His form hasn’t been sensational, if anything his careers seems to have stalled at Old Trafford rather than take off and rumours have surfaced that Di Maria’s wife wants to leave England after the families home was nearly broken into.

All of those factors has seen speculation linking the player with a move to PSG once again in the press.

So can the twenty-seven year old save his United career? 

Well firstly it’s not all lost for Angel, it may seem that coach Louis van Gaal doesn’t rate him at the moment but the same could have been said of Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Ander Herrera earlier this season. Those four stars have been pivotal in United’s recent successes in the league, yet they have all spent time on the sidelines this term.

So Louis van Gaal has shown that he’s willing to try again with players and not just isolate them forever. If Di Maria can wait it out and work-hard then you’d imagine he’ll get more chances to shine in a United shirt.

The fact he came on and contributed with an assist against Liverpool and celebrated each Man United goal that was scored against City from the bench should show his commitment.

I actually feel a bit sorry for the Argentine.

I don’t think Van Gaal has played Di Maria on the wings enough or given him the license to just go out and attack opposition defences. Personally I’d stick him out on the wing, preferably on the right. I am not necessarily suggesting that Dutchman drops either Mata or Young at the moment but should one have a dip in form then get Di Maria in on the wing.

People seem to forget that this is Di Maria’s debut season in the Premier League and he needed time to settle in. Fans will no doubt compare him with other summer La Liga recruits like Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas and suggest Di Maria hasn’t done as well. But again I think he’s not fully comfortable in the central role he’s been given at Man Utd. Plus as a forward Sanchez catches the eye with his goals, while Cesc knows the English game like the back of his hand.

Now when you look at the stats, Di Maria’s not had a terrible season at all. Angel may only have scored three times this campaign but he’s also contributed with ten assists, thats more than double any other United player. Only Fabregas has set up more all season in the Premier League.

At Real Madrid that was the main role given to Angel Di Maria, just to assist Cristiano Ronaldo. Unlike Gareth Bale, Angel understood this as his prime duty and that’s why he was appreciated by the Real fans and his teammates.

 

In the closing months of the 2013-14 season he was integral for the Bernabeu club and was instrumental in their Champions League final success, more so than Bale or Ronaldo in my opinion.

Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta has backed his international teammate…

“He’s quick, fast and a great dribbler and whenever you play against him you know you are in for a difficult game and he’s the sort of player who can really hurt you if you give him too much space and time.”

In England, he’s expected to score more. He cost around £59.7m and at that price they seem to think you need to do more.

Yet he always tries hard and wants to find himself on the ball whenever possible.

I really can’t see his stay at Old Trafford ending any time soon.

I’d expect that Louis van Gaal will soon give Di Maria another chance and like Mata and Co the United number seven will come good again.

Sometimes we all need to sit back and let players settle in at a new club, league and country. We also need to appreciate that players need to play in their best positions to get the most out of them. Finally I’d also like to say that without goals you don’t win football matches and with out unselfish players like Angel Di Maria then strikers wouldn’t get the amount of goals that they do!

James Milner And Liverpool Would Be A Great Fit

James_Milner

Manchester City could be set to lose midfielder James Milner from their ranks, as he’s not signed a new deal and it runs out in the summer.

For me, well I think the England internationalist could be an ideal signing for Liverpool. Interest in the City star from Anfield is said to be very serious, but he is also reportedly attracting the likes of Inter Milan and Arsenal.

The twenty-nine year old is still wanted by his current employers but Milner must be wondering if it’s more down to the fact he’s a homegrown player rather than due to his talents as to the reason why City want to keep him.

Although he’s seen plenty of time on the field during his five season stay at the Etihad, he’s often been seen coming off the bench and doesn’t seem to get a regular run in the starting line-up.

Manuel Pellegrini is clearly a big fan, the Chilean said this about James this season…

“Milner’s a phenomenon, a guy with big balls and a heart this big,” 

“Intelligent, great mentality, one of those players that when you leave him out you’re left with this feeling of injustice; it hurts because he should always play but sometimes you need a technical player with other characteristics.”

Yet although the main part of Pellegrini’s quotes are laced with compliments, the last line will sting Milner. He’s generally seen as a good guy and a very handy squad player. That kind of sums up his time at Manchester City.

In those five seasons with the ‘Sky Blues’, Milner has won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup.

But I get the feeling that James Milner now feels the time is right for a change in scenery and that he needs to be considered an integral first-team player, not just seen as the ideal squad talent who can be sacrificed at any time.

A move from Manchester to Liverpool, could just be the ticket for Leeds native.

With Liverpool’s talismanic captain Steven Gerrard ready to wave bon voyage in the summer to head Stateside, a vacancy for an experienced midfielder has come up at Anfield.

Milner would fit the bill. He has an amazing engine and will run all day for his teams cause. He also has that winning mentality and experience that Brendan Rodgers will be craving for as he looks to fill the void that Gerrard will leave.

At Anfield, Milner and his hard-working traits would be welcomed by the Reds manager Rodgers, whereas its been somewhat overlooked at City. Brendan has shown throughout his managerial career that he likes graft and energy from his charges and that he’s more than happy to have a British nucleus run through his teams.

James would also receive more starts at Liverpool, where his versatility and commitment to the cause would be embraced. His warrior like attributes and dogged style approach would also be cherished by the clubs supporters, especially if he can lead them towards glory again.

Going back to the versatile side of his game; like Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson (all English teammates) Milner can play in a variety of positions. He can easily play centrally in midfield, he can be used wide, operated behind the frontman and has also popped up as a full-back on one or two occasions.

His battling style also lends itself well to Rodgers’ constant pressing game plan. The fact Milner is often the player who covers the most distance on the pitch when he starts, is just another plus point for Liverpool.

His character, determination and willingness to do everything for the team are all mannerisms that both Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool fans adore.

I just can’t see any negatives in Liverpool pushing for the signing of James Milner! He really could be the best free transfer going this summer and the player that takes Liverpool back amongst the big boys next term.